We’ve saved the best news for when you need it the most. As you slog through the winter doldrums, here’s the health update that could carry you through until spring: Dark chocolate is a SuperFood. For many of us, this is a dream come true. The interesting thing is that many people have told me that once they think of chocolate as a food that’s beneficial to health, even though they still love and enjoy it, because it’s no longer “forbidden,” they’re somehow less tempted to gorge on it.
This news doesn’t mean that you should toss out the oatmeal and fill your cabinets with chocolate. Pause for a moment and let the chocolate watchwords sink in:
• Keep your daily dark chocolate intake to about 100 calories per day.
• Eat only dark chocolate.
First, and most important, is the amount of chocolate: You can’t eat as much as you want. It’s high in calories and if you eat too much of it you can gain weight. Depending on your weight and activity level, chocolate should be a small treat, a little healthy indulgence that will have to be accounted for in your overall calorie intake/activity equation.
When you do indulge in chocolate and you’re looking for a health benefit, choose dark chocolate. Milk chocolate or white chocolate (the latter isn’t even real chocolate) won’t do. While both contain some of the beneficial polyphenols (though in lower amounts than dark chocolate), preliminary data suggest that the presence of milk in the chocolate somehow mitigates the effectiveness of the polyphenols.
Here, in a nutshell, is the good news: Dark chocolate seems to contribute to lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, and ultimately contributing to a healthy heart.
It’s a myth that chocolate is loaded with caffeine. While there is some caffeine in chocolate, it’s not much. In a typical chocolate bar, the caffeine content ranges from 1 to 11 mg. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 137 mg of caffeine.